Why is the NYPD after me?

Jesus that is upsetting.

SallyNasty wrote:

Jesus that is upsetting.

My thoughts exactly.

This is a pretty well documented problem associated with CompStat/CityStat kind of tracking issues. It is also one of the big reasons I decided that BPD was clearly not the department for me.

After doing my research, I discovered that the department I would eventually apply to is pretty much the polar opposite of this. They rely mostly on community policing and cooperation with the community. The idea being that you can't respond fast enough, have enough cops, or stop and frisk your way to a safer community consistent with the values of a free society.

Oy. But hey, race is no longer a problem in this country, right?

This stuff is really disgusting.

Yay. I wasn't pissed off enough at the world yet today, apparently.

I heard someone on public radio in Baltimore yesterday afternoon talking about how an essential part of the Black American experience was that you would have numerous encounters with racism, that you would feel powerless against it, and that non-blacks would mostly tell you to stop complaining or that you are making too much out of it.

And note that they are just randomly stopping and searching people, on the street, without probable cause.

This is why I often call our drug war what it really is: The War on Blacks.

You ask that guy if he lives in a police state, and I think you'll get a rather different answer than you would if you queried a random white person.

Now, hold on a minute.

Allow me to leave my personal theory here:

The problem is not racism, but asshole cops.

Being in New York, I would guess that this gentleman (who is not a criminal) fits the description of a legitimate criminal more than once a day. Here is what the radio will say, "...suspect description is a black male, green hoodie with dark pants, last seen walking westbound on ****** street..."

Unfortunately, that describes many, many people in New York at any given moment. I have stopped many individuals who were a "white male in a black t-shirt wearing gym shorts" or a "female with long hair, blue shirt, and capri pants" only to find out they were definitely not the right person. I have also caught the correct person many times.

When this guy is stopped, all they have to do is say, "Hey, man, I'm sorry. We're looking for a black male, mid-20s, wearing a dark hoodie and dark pants in this area. You seen anybody running by?" Unfortunately, saying, "I'm sorry" doesn't happen often for many cops, and (apologies to all polite East Coast-big city residents) happens even less for many people from New York/similar.

I can tell you that for some cops, admitting they were wrong and giving somebody a business card is higher than getting shot on the "things I don't want to do" list.

When you add to that the East Coast big city attitude of "No, f*** YOU, I don't hafta tell you my f***ing business!", and it gets worse. We have a cop who grew up in (city name redacted, but a very large East Coast city) on our department, and his attitude about personal interactions has gotten him in trouble many, many times. I can say that in almost every visit I've made to a large East Coast city like Philly or Boston, there has been some asshole who would get his s*** flattened out west if he talked like that to other people in Colorado.

So please consider that the cops aren't being racist - they're just overall dicks who feel entitled to do their job without owing anybody a word of explanation or apology. Not exactly a positive view, but I would guess it's a more accurate one.

InspectorFowler wrote:

So please consider that the cops aren't being racist - they're just overall dicks who feel entitled to do their job without owing anybody a word of explanation or apology. Not exactly a positive view, but I would guess it's a more accurate one.

Unfortunately, in certain jurisdictions, there seems to be an overwhelming indication that there is a degree of racism involved in the general dick-ishness that happens.

SallyNasty wrote:

Jesus that is upsetting.

For a number of reasons, one of which is that I thought Sipowicz was going to put Malor through the veal curtain.

I think that's probably part of it, InspectorFowler, but when you consider this stat:

last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos.

that doesn't seem like an adequate explanation.

Just want to note that all of that happens in Mexico too - cops stopping young men cos they look shady, abusing power, hitting young kids that won't hit back.

It's more like an abuse of power thing, I believe, it's gotta happen everywhere there are policemen.

Malor wrote:

I think that's probably part of it, InspectorFowler, but when you consider this stat:

last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos.

that doesn't seem like an adequate explanation.

I agree with Malor. Regardless of their intentions, if they are inordinately targeting one ethnic/age group over another - racism is the result.

Malor wrote:

I think that's probably part of it, InspectorFowler, but when you consider this stat:

last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos.

that doesn't seem like an adequate explanation.

Aren't blacks and latinos usually poorer in the US? I think it might have some racism part but maybe it's also a class thing.

Location can also be a big part of it. What is the population mix of where these stops are located? If 84 percent of the people in that place are black or Latino, then what does that say?

And why does it have to be one thing? Power issues, class, color, geographic location all can combine into one nauseating, Voltron-esque monster that generates that statistic.

Holy sh*t. Are those stats accurate? Where did he get them from? Is it really 84% of them as being black/Hispanic/not-white? Or is that 84% of the complaints? I'll be honest that I glossed over the stats in his article and focused more on his narrative.

In any case, if that's true, I have a lot of difficulty understanding how the federal government hasn't completed a takeover of the NYPD. They have done it in other jurisdictions where they have determined that systemic issues prevent ethical, effective law enforcement.

I mentioned this in Paleocon's thread about wanting to be a cop, but I f***ing hate the East Coast police mentality. There is an entitlement attitude out there that leads to tons of abuse of power. For some reason I think people expect the NYPD, Boston, Philly, NJ, etc cops to just be assholes. Out here, at least there is public outcry when, say, Denver has a huge rash of use of force complaints - the citizens got the chief replaced.

For God's sake, I know a cop who just got fired over a four point ticket he received while on duty. He didn't show due regard when proceeding through a red signal (he didn't have his emergency lights on although he was responding to an emergent call) and struck a bicyclist. Never mind that the cyclist was wearing all black clothes and had no lights on his bike (making him virtually invisible). The local city agency wasn't going to put up with that, and fired the cop outright - the bicyclist wasn't even seriously injured. I could quote you stories all day long of cops getting disciplined over what sometimes seems like really minor stuff (me included), but you know what? A little fear of God in the cops keeps them honest...even if it means some decent ones sometimes get fired or reprimanded. That's a terrible, terrible thing to say, but it's true.

Out here, though, we don't really have police unions. I belong to the Fraternal Order of Police, which out here amounts to very little more than lawyers who will actually defend me if I get into a shooting or use of force lawsuit. They don't negotiate pay. They don't negotiate working conditions for me. They don't help determined the methods our disciplinary system will use.

Hell, at our agency, you go on suspension if somebody - no matter how far-fetched - even alleges a use of force complaint.

And apparently the NYPD is allowed to stop 84% minorities without getting kicked in the face? I'm pretty sure NY isn't 84% blacks/Hispanics/whatever, so that's pretty messed up.

I'm curious what % of reported crimes are reported as black or Latino offenders, that is, as an example, how many new yorkers assume their pickpocket was black or Latino when they report it even if they never saw the person?

As InspectorFowler points out the police can only operate on the information given so if the population is reporting 84% black or Latino then you would expect that many stops.

Your real name is Nicholas?

last year, the N.Y.P.D. recorded more than 600,000 stops; 84 percent of those stopped were blacks or Latinos.

According to wikipedia 54% of the NYC population is black or hispanic and 52% of the NYPD is the same.

As of 2009, the NYPD was 47.5% Caucasian, 28.9% Hispanic, 17.9% African American and 5.5% Asian compared to a city that was 33.7% Caucasian, 29.6% Hispanic (of any race), 23.9% African American, and 13.3% Asian.
Your real name is Nicholas?

No, that's the title of the article. I am neither black nor named Nicholas.

Racial profiling is definitely a 'thing' in New York and New Jersey. It's been an issue surrounding our police for more than twenty years, when the first stories of being arrested for 'driving while black' filtered into the white conscience.

Unfortunately, the NYPD and the people in charge of the NYPD (primarily the Mayor's office) have had a very cuddly, corrupt relationship going back to Giuliani at least (when I began to be politically aware). Because Giuliani developed a 'tough on crime' aura, that bled over onto Bloomberg, there hasn't been any real electoral backlash against this - having absolutely awful candidates run against Giuliani/Bloomberg didn't help either.

momgamer wrote:

And why does it have to be one thing? Power issues, class, color, geographic location all can combine into one nauseating, Voltron-esque monster that generates that statistic.

Indeed. I'm not naive enough to say racism doesn't exist, but it's rarely the only factor.

I say this next part only cause of my own psychology, but fear may be a factor on the part of the police as well.
I live in a relatively sparsely populated area compared to NYC and people here are friendly and talkative to police they see. What's it like in a city of millions? What's it like realizing you're outnumbered 10000-to-1? Then realizing that your main solution to this fear is having a crap-ton of power?

RolandofGilead wrote:

I live in a relatively sparsely populated area compared to NYC and people here are friendly and talkative to police they see. What's it like in a city of millions? What's it like realizing you're outnumbered 10000-to-1?

I think it's only about 225-to-1.

(8,000,000 divided by 36,000, right? I never trust my math!)

RolandofGilead wrote:
momgamer wrote:

And why does it have to be one thing? Power issues, class, color, geographic location all can combine into one nauseating, Voltron-esque monster that generates that statistic.

Indeed. I'm not naive enough to say racism doesn't exist, but it's rarely the only factor.

I say this next part only cause of my own psychology, but fear may be a factor on the part of the police as well.
I live in a relatively sparsely populated area compared to NYC and people here are friendly and talkative to police they see. What's it like in a city of millions? What's it like realizing you're outnumbered 10000-to-1? Then realizing that your main solution to this fear is having a crap-ton of power?

Being outnumbered isn't really an explanation, because it's not an across-the-board increase in number of stops; there's clearly racial profiling at play here. This is not an isolated story, it's just a particularly well-written one. I've read enough "Driving While Black" stories from around the country to realize this is pretty endemic to our society.

If the cops were pulling over pretty much anybody, sure, you can discount racism, but blacks and Latinos are being stopped (and stopped in very aggressive ways) at a rate much higher than you would expect based on pure population demographics. The quickest, most logical, and Occam's Razor-est explanation is "racism".

InspectorFowler wrote:

Now, hold on a minute.

Allow me to leave my personal theory here:

The problem is not racism, but asshole cops.

. . .

So please consider that the cops aren't being racist - they're just overall dicks who feel entitled to do their job without owing anybody a word of explanation or apology. Not exactly a positive view, but I would guess it's a more accurate one.

I personally think it's probably a combination of profiling + asshole cops. Reminds me of the 3 times I've had interactions with Chicago PD in the last couple years for being white in the wrong neighborhood.

- Check ID's / warrants.

- "Where's the dope?"

- Get the f*ck out of here.

Malor wrote:

And note that they are just randomly stopping and searching people, on the street, without probable cause.

If we're talking about the legal standard, for a stop like this (called a Terry Stop) the standard is reasonable suspicion, which is a lower standard than probable cause. Terry stops are (supposed to be) for the purpose of investigating suspicious activity/conduct.

It doesn't sound like the stops described in the article would meet the reasonable suspicion standard. But reasonable suspicion is not the same thing as probable cause, which is what the police need to get a warrant or to arrest someone.

I thought the piece was clear and well-written, and the criticism is fair without being hyperbolic. I'd like to know some more details about the numbers cited, but the piece was obviously not written as a statistical study, but as a personal account illustrating a large problem. I forwarded the article along to a professor who does research in this area.

I'll also echo the point that a few others made about the difficulty the police have doing their job, especially in big cities. When the population does not trust the police, and the police don't trust the citizens, suspicions are raised all around. I don't mean to suggest that excuses police misconduct, which looks like it was clearly present in the article. But as someone who grew up in Los Angeles with a lot of suspicion and mistrust for the police, I've had the opportunity to work with the police (not in LA) and my appreciation for the job they do has grown a lot.

Scaphism wrote:

But as someone who grew up in Los Angeles with a lot of suspicion and mistrust for the police, I've had the opportunity to work with the police (not in LA) and my appreciation for the job they do has grown a lot.

It's a bit of a vicious circle really, and one i can't see a way out of: It only takes one bad experience with the police to make you sour on the whole of policedom. This makes the job of the police harder and, as a result more mistakes/misjudgements are made and thus more people suspect and distrust the police. Everyone makes mistakes or has bad days and, unfortunately, there isn't another alternative to the judicial system unlike everything else in our lives... so the police, judges and those people who are affected by those instances just have to live with them. For me, seeing all the crap that's gone on with the occupy movements, response to political pressure after the UK riots and whatnot this last year has soured me on the whole idea of the current set-up of the police forces around the world. I can't imagine that i'm the only "young" person who feels this way.... and it directly affects how i view and interact with police forces the world over.

Blame asshole cops, sure, but what happens when the NYPD goes out of their way to hire assholes or turn their cops into assholes or protect their assholes? The problem with the Blue Wall is that makes the job of policing even harder by making enemies out of the citizens. You can't expect cooperation from the community when you harass them, humiliate them, or even just protect people who do.

LeapingGnome wrote:
As of 2009, the NYPD was 47.5% Caucasian, 28.9% Hispanic, 17.9% African American and 5.5% Asian compared to a city that was 33.7% Caucasian, 29.6% Hispanic (of any race), 23.9% African American, and 13.3% Asian.

These stats must be for NYPD as a whole. There is a huge administrative apparatus, where minorities are probably represented better. The racial breakdown of actual patrolmen, however, is probably different.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Blame asshole cops, sure, but what happens when the NYPD goes out of their way to hire assholes or turn their cops into assholes or protect their assholes? The problem with the Blue Wall is that makes the job of policing even harder by making enemies out of the citizens. You can't expect cooperation from the community when you harass them, humiliate them, or even just protect people who do.

For the cops who commute to work at NYPD but live on Long Island, the NYC is not their community. Not fearing to generalize to broadly, I dare to say that most of them look at areas like Harlem and Flatbush (mentioned in the articel) in disdain and contempt. This is my firsthand experience from living in Brooklyn.

No_Chance wrote:

Reminds me of the 3 times I've had interactions with Chicago PD in the last couple years for being white in the wrong neighborhood.

What up Southside.

Scaphism wrote:

It doesn't sound like the stops described in the article would meet the reasonable suspicion standard. But reasonable suspicion is not the same thing as probable cause, which is what the police need to get a warrant or to arrest someone.

I'd like to assume that a lot of stops like this (regardless of race) involve cops who felt they had a reasonable suspicion that wasn't motivated by their own vies on race. But it's hard to know, since I don't think the cops have to explain the reasonableness of their suspicions unless the matter gets brought to court.